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Gunpei Yokoi's Withered Technology: Virtual Boy, Game & Watch, Wonderswan, etc. Let's laterally think!

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
I realized I've been on a kick lately where I've been buying and enjoying products that are tied to Gunpei Yokoi. I've always liked Virtual Boy, and though I sold my hardware a couple years back, it was always something I liked, even when it first came out, and just last week finally played completely through Virtual Boy Wario Land, which is great. I thought I'd start a thread to talk about his non-Gameboy stuff, since I bought a few Game & Watches and a Wonderswan in the past few weeks lol

First, some links for good information about all this stuff:

Jeremy Parish's Virtual Boy Works, probably the best video retrospective of the system

Kelsey Lewin's short history on Game & Watch, not exhaustive but is a nice refresher on the basics

Retronauts did two episodes about Gunpei Yokoi recently, too, here are episodes one and two (the first is pre-Game & Watch stuff, the second covers Game & Watch and later)

There's not a lot of English-language Wonderswan content on YT, but I like this from USGamer from years ago about good games for the system

So for me, I recently traded a Gameboy Micro I wasn't using for a Green House Game & Watch, and I'm glad I did, because the game is a blast to play:



I'd originally played the game on the DS Game & Watch collection, which was kind of a big deal for me at the time because I'd always written off the Game & Watches as crappy LCD games akin to those 90s era Tiger handheld games I'd had as a kid, which were awful, and even Mr Game & Watch's appearance in Smash Bros Melee seemed to me to be nothing but a cute nod to ancient Nintendo history. But of the Game & Watch games I've actually gone and played, including the above and the various Game & Watch collections for Game Boy and Game Boy Color, they're actually fun little games! Green House is - so far - my favorite, but I've found myself enjoying Ball, Helmet, Donkey Kong Jr, Fire, and a few others lately on various old collections. If you haven't given these games a shot, I'd really recommend them - they're quite arcadey (in an early 80s way) and can get quite hectic.

I'm in the early stages of playing on Wonderswan hardware, too. I got a Final Fantasy themed Wonderswan Color, and will be backlighting it soon, and apparently, the guy who makes the flash cart is going to be making a new batch soon:


I hope I can get one, because they're not made very often, and I want to be able to play English fantranslations of things like the first Chocobo Dungeon game, the SaGa 1 remake, and the first two Final Fantasies on actual hardware!

So this thread is for non-Gameboy Yokoi stuff (since Tegan's thread has that covered)! Does anyone have an Ultra Hand? Did you meet your spouse while playing the Love Tester? Or just talk about the Virtual Boy!
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I need to fix my VB, it has horizontal lines at the edge of the display. I don't think it's quite as easy as the Game Boy fix, however.

Galactic Pinball is an awesome game, I need to play it again. The 3D is perfect, and it's got a great soundtrack (and a Samus cameo).
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
If it's like a Gameboy, horizontal lines are a death sentence, aren't they? I know vertical lines can supposedly be repaired (though I had issues with my DMG, they kept reappearing), though I have no idea about Virtual Boy repairs and would imagine they'd be a giant pain to fix regardless.

Also, meant to tell you - I got a good deal on a Squish Game & Watch on eBay based on your post about it in the other thread - the clasp to close the unit is broken, but otherwise it's in pretty good shape. It's coming from Argentina so I have no idea when I'll get it, but I'll post pictures and impressions of the game when I get it. I also bought some brand new polarizers for Game & Watches, just to have in case any of the displays fade. I want these things to work forever!
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Whoops, it's vertical, fortunately. Apparently some people use their oven to reflow the solder but I'm not insane and have found a method with a specific type of soldering iron.

I love that fans are making it possible to keep these things alive. Really, I wish Nintendo would do a new run of Game and Watches. I'm willing to bet they'd sell pretty well. I can't wait to find out if Squish is actually good, it looks a bit Devil World.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Whoops, it's vertical, fortunately. Apparently some people use their oven to reflow the solder but I'm not insane and have found a method with a specific type of soldering iron.

I can't imagine explaining to my wife what I was doing as I stick my Virtual Boy in the oven. She'd probably think I was trying to burn the apartment down lol. Glad to hear there's a way to do it without baking your 25 year old VR headset lol

I love that fans are making it possible to keep these things alive. Really, I wish Nintendo would do a new run of Game and Watches. I'm willing to bet they'd sell pretty well. I can't wait to find out if Squish is actually good, it looks a bit Devil World.

That's what I thought! I wonder if Devil World was like a Famicom remake of Squish or something. In any case, I agree - I would love a new run of Game & Watches. At the very least, it'd be nice if they made a Zelda Game & Watch, which similar to the recently released Mario one would have the NES game on it, but also hopefully the Zelda Game & Watch from back in the day (though I don't know how they'd do dual screen, so probably not). The G&W reddit board is full of people hopeful that with Zelda's 35th anniversary this year they'll do something, so here's hoping!
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
You can take out the assembly it sits in, fortunately. Even so, putting electronics in the oven just sounds like a potential disaster waiting to happen.

Nintendo have done Game and Watch re-releases before now, my re-released Super Mario Bros is in a form factor reminiscent of a Game Boy. I'd prefer the original form factor though and for the dual screened ones I'd guess it was a requirement.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
It's such a shame there weren't more dual screen releases on either DS or 3DS (or even Wii U). I'm glad I got to try out Green House back then, but there's a very simple Zelda game that most people haven't played (and I'd argue the G&W Zelda counts more as a Zelda game than those CD-i games lol)!

I've seen those Game Boy style G&Ws - were those released like in the late 90s/early 2000s? I don't know much about them... do they play well?
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Its nice to watch Mario run around while I'm on hold with corporate and such, too. He got a secret vine up into the clouds a few minutes ago lol
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
I've been eyeing a WSC for a while, and will probably get to it later this year. Seeing stuff with IPS screens and flashcarts breaking through is kind of the tipping point, because even though I already wanted one enough, the premium price on the crystal combined with the fact I'd basically heard it was less desirable except for the screen (which, unfortunately, would easily justify the choice on its own) was giving me pause.

i need more 16-bit-ish rpgs on the go. and pink handhelds (i just grabbed a psp-3000 from japan to mess around with for the first time in 7 or 8 years)
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Keep in mind there's not a ton of stuff fantranslated yet. Most are remakes - Final Fantasies 1, 2, and 4 are all supposedly better on GBA and not even 100% fully translated yet (though I'm going to to play the WS versions because novelty), SaGa 1, Chocobo's Dungeon, and some version of Wizardry, and RPG wise I think that's it. Hopefully with flashcarts and IPS screens coming out, the Wonderswan gets more English-language attention and more translations...
 

spines

behold my godlike
(she/her, or something)
not really a dealbreaker either way, luckily, since i've been studying on and off and playing games is one of the best incentives i have to work at it anyway, especially if it's something i'm at least a little familiar with in english from before. but yeah, it'd be nice to see some of this stuff getting more attention from the hacking/tl scene for sure (even if it means some of it will probably become even more expensive, lol)
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Fresh from Argentina - Squish!





I got a good deal on this, since the LCD is a little faint and the case is a bit beat up, but not too bad - really the only thing I dislike about the case is the broken clasp, which is apparently common on these multiscreens.

As for the gameplay, just like Green House - it's fun! I wish it had a D-pad rather than having up/down and left/right split across both sides of the device, but you get used to it fairly quickly. It plays like Devil World, except simpler because you don't have any dots to eat (or crosses to collect, or whatever it was in Devil World, I haven't played that in years and years). The guy up top points in different directions and then the room on the bottom moves in that direction, and your goal is to move the guy on the bottom around so as not to get squished between one of the moving walls and the edges of the playfield. I haven't spent a ton of time with it yet, but the speed slowly increases and the guy up top changes directions more frequently as you play.

I hope I can make the LCD slightly darker - it's totally playable as is, but I would like this thing looking fresh if possible (the picture above is deceptive - the lower screen is darker than it appears there, it's just hard to photograph). Not sure if the replacement polarizers will help with that or not, but I'm happy with my purchase as is. These things are really cool.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I'm quite jealous, that's a great piece of withered technology. Game B is different because you have to not get squished while collecting items from the characters in the corners. It's funny about a D Pad being more helpful, I think Nintendo hadn't invented it yet.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Ooh, that's a bit of complexity I think I'd enjoy! Game B seems to be the way to go with these - I prefer it for Green House, too.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Yep, Game B is the way to go - just the right level of complexity. It gets pretty tough - I got to over 300 points without a single death then quickly made three stupid mistakes for a 357 lol. Excellent stuff.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
This was difficult to photograph, but I replaced the polarizers on the top and bottom screen of my Squish:




It might be hard to tell - especially because my wife is in bed and I couldn't use her phone with a better camera to photograph these, so I had to use my own shit one - but the screens look WAY better. It was a pretty simple repair, too - I only needed the new polarizers and a flathead screwdriver. These - perhaps obviously - are pretty simple devices, so as long as you're careful while taking it apart and don't put too much pressure on the ribbon cable, it's straightforward to dissassemble. Pop in the new polarizer after taking the old one out, and screw it back up! I didn't even watch a YT video for this.

Easy as it was - I enjoyed doing it. I'll probably reopen it this weekend to clean - it was pretty gross in there.

If you want to replace any of these yourself, you can buy replacement polarizers from this guy on eBay. He's in Spain, so they took a while to get here, but they were well worth it. He'll be getting more of my business (probably tonight, even lol).
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Price isn't as bad as I thought it'd be, though. But yeah, I'd need to see video of someone installing it before I attempted it. Sounds like it'd be difficult, but not dissimilar to installing a new LCD screen in a Game Gear.

Plus, you know, I'd have to own a Virtual Boy.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I'm... not honestly sure I'd recommend it other than for the novelty of, you know, owning a Virtual Boy. The only game I really cared for on it was Wario Land, and I'm still absolutely miffed that Nintendo didn't take the opportunity to put that on 3DS. I mean, come on!
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
I used to have a Virtual Boy, sold it a couple years ago, and now I kinda want one again lol. I like weird proprietary hardware, I guess. I even had Wario Land, which is great!
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
Yeah, it really is good stuff! It plays really well. I don't think I actually beat it on the system, though - my full run actually came emulating on the Wii. Too bad I didn't have any anaglyph glasses laying around. I'd have loved to see if it worked decently enough.

I bought mine years and years ago. I definitely wanted it partly as a novelty piece. I ought to take it up to work for display. :) It only gets pulled down every few years, though. I discovered it had finally developed issues when I wanted to test the two copies of Red Alarm that I picked up.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I think I'll get that kit. There's a fix for the lines which looks a lot easier, but if you were to screw it up and damage the ribbon cable, that mod would replace everything you may have damaged:

 
I sent my Virtual Boy off to someone on the Planet Virtual Boy forums and they soldered the ribbon cable for me, greatly appreciated it. Tons of nice folks over there.

Also, Galactic Pinball does indeed rule, and the prototype version has entirely different tables to play.
 
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